AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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Rutgers Scientists Discover New Role for Sensory Signals in the Brain

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Learning how to tie a shoe or shoot a basketball isn’t easy, but the brain somehow integrates sensory signals that are critical to coordinating movements so you can get it right.

Now, Rutgers scientists have discovered that sensory signals in the brain’s cerebral cortex, which plays a key role in controlling movement and other functions, have a different pattern of connections between nerve cells and different effects on behavior than motor signals. The motor area of the cortex sends signals to stimulate muscles.

The research on neural signals could help lead to new treatments for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease or psychiatric conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder.

Scientists at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Rutgers–Newark investigated a brain region called the striatum in mice. The striatum, which integrates signals from the sensory and motor areas of the cerebral cortex, is severely compromised in diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

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